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How Much Makeup Is Too Much for Your Teen?

How Much Makeup Is Too Much for Your Teen?
Oops, she did it again. Your (barely) teenage daughter just stormed out of the house looking like a pop-tart wannabe, and you're left home fuming and frustrated. What happened to the sweet little girl that used to live in your daughter's body? You and she used to talk about everything, and she used to value your opinion on fashion and beauty. These days it seems like the only thing that she seems certain of is that she hates you, and that you just don't understand.

But you do understand. Dig back in your memory, and you'll realize that it was not so long ago that you were the one trying your mother's patience with your makeup and beauty experimentation. Thankfully, both of you lived through it. You seem to recall your mom saying, "Just wait until you have a teenage daughter, then you'll understand." OK, you've got a teenage daughter that you're trying desperately to understand - now what?

Realize that your teen is going through a discovery phase. She's experimenting with new looks and trying on new personas. What may look freakish to you, might just be a phase that your daughter needs to work through on her own. (I'm way past my teens and have been known to attend business meetings wearing orange glitter dust and false eyelashes. My mother just sighs and prays that it's a stage that I'll grow out of.)

Always remember that your daughter is unique, and that there are no hard and fast rules that apply to every teen. Each teen aspires to a distinctive signature look, image and personality - even if they all look identical to you. What works with one will most definitely not work with another.

Before you give up on ever seeing eye to heavily-made-up eye with your teenage daughter, here are some helpful tips to help you and your teen reach common ground:

1. Educate yourself.

Don't blame your teen if she's trying to copy the heavy makeup and skimpy clothes that she sees on MTV. Teens find it hard to distinguish reality from the stage and are unaware of the fact that Britney and J.Lo have stylists and makeup artists choosing definitive looks that will be the most recognizable on stage - but not appropriate for real life.

Pick up a few teen magazines, and show your daughter pictures of girls that you feel are dressed appropriately or are wearing their makeup in a way that you feel is acceptable. Know the difference between teen icons. Show your teen that her world is important to you, and that you're willing to try to understand her without crowding her or trying too hard to be cool.

2. Set some ground rules.

Decide with your husband just how much makeup is acceptable. Bear in mind that your husband may have no clue what lip liner is, and he may not really care. Presenting a unified parental front will head off the inevitable: "But Daddy said that I could wear fuchsia glitter lipstick and black nail polish on the first day of junior high!"
3. Define your limits.

Go through teen beauty and grooming rituals from highlights to lip liner, nail polish - Glitter? Red? French manicure? - waxing, shaving to toughies like piercing and tattoos. Know what the other kids are doing and what you consider to be appropriate for each age group.

Don't be afraid to let your teen know that you consider eyeliner to be inappropriate for a 12-year-old, but that you will allow her to wear it on special occasions when she's 15. As much as teens love to experiment, they need to know that there are boundaries that cannot be crossed. Realize that your teen daughter will test your limits, and that you won't be doing either of you any favors by letting her get away with everything.

I know of one mom who threw a fit when her daughter pierced her belly button. It seems that Mom didn't think it was the biggest deal, but didn't want her daughter to think it was OK to transform her body into a pincushion. Needless to say, Mom and Daughter were both satisfied that they'd succeeded in shaking each other up.

4. Compromise.

Let her get away with some things. Seriously. Teens need to break free from parental control; it's just the way that they're built. Wouldn't you rather she feel wicked about breaking the eyeliner rule than sneaking out to get a tattoo that says "Justin Forever"?

5. Show by example.

If you think that there is nothing sleazier looking than a teen with a thong sticking out of the waistband of her jeans, don't flash yours. Enough said.

6. Get professional help.

If you haven't worn makeup since your wedding, book a mother-daughter makeover with a makeup artist. Don't just choose the first makeup counter that you pass, since cosmetic counter makeup artists are notorious for being heavy handed and commission driven.

Take an hour or so and scout out the mall to find a more teen-friendly brand. Look at the makeup artists. Do they look like they'd need a blowtorch to remove their foundation? If they do, move on to the next counter. Arm yourself with photos of looks that you feel are appropriate for your daughter, as well as a defined budget.

Explain to the makeup artist that you would like for your daughter to learn makeup basics, and that you are not interested in a heavily made up look. Ask the makeup artist to explain to you step by step the way that the makeup is applied. Explain to your daughter that she may choose two items used in the makeover, and that you'll supplement the rest with drugstore items. Turn makeup into a bonding ritual that the two of you can look forward to.

Remember that you've been applying makeup for half your life, but it's all brand new for your teen. Your daughter is trying on different personas and trying to discover the woman that she will become. Makeup is fun, fantasy and a bit magical - just like your daughter's teenage years.

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